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Synchronizing Fireflies, Bush Crickets and Machines

Thursday 1 August 2019
Entrance: special guest card, entrance ticket, friend of the museum
Rijksmuseum Boerhaave
Lange St. Agnietenstraat 10
2312 WC Leiden
Einstein room

Together with Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, the Lorentz Center organizes the public lecture ‘Synchronizing fireflies, bush crickets and machines’ by Robin Meier.

Every night, shortly after sunset, thousands of tiny insects gather in the bushes of the Thai mangrove forests for a fascinating mating ritual: The suitors are male fireflies (Pteroptyx), and they start blinking in a regular rhythm, isolated at first, but slowly coordinating the timing of their flashes in synchrony with their neighbors, leading to waves of light and single synchronized flashes. In 2015, artist Robin Meier went to Thailand for an artistic exploration of this natural light show. Together with a team, he employed computer-controlled LEDs to interact with the natural rhythms and synchronizations of the fireflies, to investigate how the fireflies coordinate their flashing and how their behavior was influenced by the pattern of computer-controlled LEDs. His work inspired the short film Synchronicity (Thailand).

After watching Synchronicity, Robin Meier will present a series of artworks on synchronicity and rhythm in nature, and reflect on the general relationship between scientific experiment and artistic practice. 

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